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A Pimped-Out Cape can be done in many ways, from simply edging it with furnote  to covering most of it with gold embroidery.note 

A rarely stated, but fairly common, belief here is that some tropes are rigid, and that the only variation comes with Playing with a Trope. Or some here think that most tropes are rigid, unless "Sliding Scale" is in the name. But it's not really true at all (also the reason we have The Same, but More). This belief often manifests in examples as citing the trope name, but with emphasis added on a changed word.

Even in the most narrowly defined Sub Tropes, there is plenty of room for variation, even when playing straight. There can even be degrees of how the trope is applied, which is certainly the reason we don't allow The Same, but More.

Two of the most common variations for a trope are the scale, and the importance in the story. But, there are quite a few other ways to allow for trope variations.

The only actual thing rigid about tropes is the cutoff between one trope and another, or at least that is what we are striving for. Even when it involves Super Tropes and Sub Tropes, or if there is overlap with another trope, those tropes are still separate.

So, the next time you think a trope is separate from another trope, make sure the line is clear. If it's not, you didn't make a mistake, other than to underestimate how flexible tropes are.

Compare Playing with a Trope, Downplayed Trope, Exaggerated Trope.

Contrast Square Peg, Round Trope (when an example doesn't fit the trope no matter how you twist it around).

To best illustrate this concept, examples should be straight uses, with only some playing with them

  • All Just a Dream has quite a broad scope. It can be used for a single scene, entire episodes, entire seasons (Dallas), or even the entire series (St. Elsewhere). It can be a regular dream (The Wizard of Oz), a psychotic delusion of innocence told by an Unreliable Narrator (The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari) or even a "simulation" (Family Guy; "Stewie Kills Lois"/"Lois Kills Stewie"). Newhart manages to make fun of this, and crank it up even further by claiming the series is the dream of a character (played by the same actor) in another series (namely, The Bob Newhart Show).
  • Butt-Monkey means simply a character who things hardly ever work out for, and nothing more. There are people who refuse to apply it even where it fits, because they mistakenly believe that it is required to be Played for Laughs. There is a type of Butt-Monkey that is required to be Played for Laughs—but that trope is The Chew Toy.
  • Many examples of Does This Remind You of Anything? are about sexually suggestive things, but that's not a requirement; allegories for historical conflicts, contemporary conflicts, controversial topics or even just mundane unpleasantries are also legitimate examples.
  • For Elemental Planes, the four classical Natural Elements (Fire, Water, Earth and Air) are most likely to come up, sometimes accompanied by secondary ones such as lightning or magic. But that's by no means a requirement, as just about anything else is liable to get its own conceptual plane as well. A dimension of mayonnaise, a world made of diamond, or a rectangular realm of rectangles, you name it.
  • Fanservice, though primarily known for its sexual value, also encompasses the usage of Ensemble Dark Horse, Popularity Power, Meme Acknowledgement, Moments of Awesome, etc. to appeal to the fanbase's sensibilities in equally exciting ways.
  • Hauled Before A Senate Subcommittee doesn't necessarily have to involve the U.S. Congress. This trope also covers investigations carried out by other legislatures, real or fictional. For example, the British Parliament has permanent Select Committees that investigate certain areas, including public accounts, hence this page's use of the committee hearing from Skyfall as its page image. Some examples might not even be legislatures, as long as they concern the nominal governing body with a committee.
  • Idiot Crows do not necessarily have to use the crow to accentuate a silly or idiotic sentence being said, sometimes other flying animal making stock animal noises and/or dot dot dot trail is substituted instead, especially in Western media who are less familiar with the trope.
  • I Have No Son! doesn't necessary mean about the parents disowning their child, this trope can also mean a sibling disowning their other sibling, an uncle/aunt disowning their nephew, and etc.
  • Despite what the bloody red image might suggest, Ludicrous Gibs can be used as well in tandem with the Technicolor Alien Blood as long as it's shown where it came from, or even for Mecha-Mooks, turning them into a splat of black oily debris instead.
  • In terms of Malevolent Architecture, console Roleplaying Games tend to have loads of enemies, but rarely any hazards in the buildings, save for the occasional lava floor. On the other hand, Tomb of Horrors is infamous for having loads of traps in every room.
  • Personal Horror can cover a wide variety of things as the key component is that the character it happens to is traumatized by their reaction and feels alienated from their sense of self.
  • Planet Looters don't necessarily have to target Earth, so examples where humans are looting other planets are still straight examples. The inversion would be if, say, one civilisation was selling its planet's resources to others.
  • Calling our Planet Terra is not an explicit case in fiction - it often extends to the Moon and the Sun, giving them the less generic and more sci-fi sounding latin names Luna and Sol. It may also include referring to humans as Terrans, even when the planet is still called Earth.
  • Sex Sells has a wide range, from just attractive people in a picture, to acts that just scream "Does This Remind You of Anything?"
  • A work featuring a "Stuck at the Airport" Plot doesn't necessarily have to take place at an actual airport. Any bus or train station can do.
  • That One Boss, That One Level, and other tropes listed on That One Index don't need to be Nintendo Hard sections in otherwise easy games. They just need to be noticeably harder than the rest of the game (or most of it).
  • Wacky Waterbed doesn't have to involve literal waterbeds. It can include squishy internal organs filled with a liquid such as water or blood, particularly in some cases of Fantastic Voyage plots, Swallowed Whole, and video game levels based on internal anatomy.
  • Wham Episode, Wham Line, and Wham Shot don't always have to be about negative Plot Twists. They can involve positive plot twists as well, like a seemingly villain-aligned character revealing themselves as The Mole to the heroes, or a seemingly-inept companion of the hero finally revealing their true abilities. The important part about these tropes is that they suddenly and significantly change the course of the story, with no prior warning to the viewer/listener/reader/player.
  • Xanatos Gambit and Batman Gambit are both about specific types of ingenious plans. The thing is, there is nothing saying they have to be of a certain scale. Using these plans could vary from just getting a promotion from your boss, to world conquest. They also have nothing to do with being good or evil, despite their respective Trope Namers; heroes can use Xanatos Gambits and villains can use Batman Gambits.

Alternative Title(s): Tropes Are Not Narrow